What documents do I need to begin the settlement process?

Written by

Amy Liebaert

What documents do I need to begin the settlement process?

Losing a loved one is never easy, and it can be even more challenging if you're the executor tasked with settling their estate. Not only do you have to navigate the emotions of grief, but you also have to handle estate settlement, which can be a complicated process. Preparing yourself in advance will greatly reduce the stress and confusion that can come with the daunting task of sifting through seemingly endless paperwork. In this blog, we’ll discuss what documents you need to begin the settlement process, so you can focus on what's important: grieving and healing.

Benefits of Preparing

After the loss of a loved one, it is essential to start the process as soon as possible to avoid any unnecessary delays or complications. One of the most critical steps to take before beginning the settlement process is gathering all the necessary documents. By gathering all the necessary documents early on, you will avoid the added stress of searching for them later while saving yourself time and energy.

Gathering Items

To ease estate settlement, aid in organization, and ensure the process runs smoothly, we’ve generated a list of documents to collect:


  • Death Certificate: Serves as proof of death, and many organizations or agencies require it to process estate related paperwork.
  • Last Will and Testament: Outlines the deceased person’s final wishes, including how their assets should be distributed among beneficiaries.
  • Contact Information for all Beneficiaries: For easy access when distributing assets.
  • Trust or Nuptial Agreements & Joint Account Information: Determines who has authority over or is assigned to certain assets.

Home & Property

  • Deeds to Property: Provides legal proof of ownership.
  • Mortgage Agreement: Provides proof of property ownership and reveals any outstanding balances.
  • Property Tax Records, Proof of Renovations, Utility Bills, and Insurance Policies: Determines the total value of the property, necessary action for sale or transfer of ownership, as well as any outstanding debts or liabilities associated with it.

Telecom Systems

  • Internet, Security, or Cable Services: Includes copies of recent bills, monthly service agreements, and equipment rental agreements. Ensures all outstanding balances are paid, and that any property related services are canceled or transferred appropriately.


  • Government-Issued Identification Cards: Must be canceled for security and are used to establish the deceased person’s identity, citizenship, and legal rights to possess certain assets. Includes birth certificate, passport, driver's license, and Social Security Number (SSN).


  • Life Insurance Policies: Determines who the beneficiaries are.
  • Homeowner’s or Renter’s Insurance Policies: Claims may need to be made for damages or losses.
  • Auto & Health Insurance: Policies should be canceled or transferred to a beneficiary.

Business Owner

  • Structure of Business: Establishes who the benefiting stakeholders are.
  • Financial Records: Accounts receivable and payable, contracts, leases and tax returns will help determine if there are any outstanding debts or liabilities.
  • Buy/Sell Agreement: Review to ensure proper ownership transfer.


  • Memberships and Affiliations: Gather records such as employment insurance, union memberships, and club memberships to file a claim for benefits owed or review to see if there are outstanding dues.


  • Pension Plans & Tax Information: Identifies any beneficiaries who may be entitled to receive funds in those accounts and determines tax implications of distributions.
  • Previous Year’s Tax Returns: Provides valuable information about the deceased person’s income, deductions, and outstanding tax obligations to be addressed.

Banking & Investments

  • Stocks, Mutual Funds, or Investments: Identifies assets and ensures beneficiaries receive their entitled share.
  • Bank Account Information & Credit Card Statements: Review account balances for outstanding loans or fees that must be paid out.

Accounts & Memberships

  • Social Media, Emails, & Gym Memberships: If not deactivated, personal information and data left exposed could lead to security risks
  • Ongoing Subscription Payments: To prevent unnecessary charges, services like streaming and delivery should be terminated.

A Helping Hand

Many estates have unique circumstances that demand specific documentation. Our mission at Cadence is to ensure families have the guidance and support they need to navigate the estate settlement process with ease. This is why we built the Executor Assistant to give next of kin a personalized roadmap that outlines every necessary step for your specific circumstance. Our streamlined process lists every essential document, so you can stay on track, and avoid missing any crucial details. This tool goes above and beyond the traditional checklist, offering detailed instructions and certified support personnel ready to help executors every step of the way. Through its easy-to-use interface, executors can save time and money from seeking outside resources, all while maintaining the utmost security of your loved one’s information.


The estate settlement process can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to gathering all the necessary documents. By preparing ahead of time, you'll help alleviate some of the stress and ensure the process moves smoothly. Cadence understands how challenging and time consuming it can be to know which documents to gather. With the Executor Assistant, families can access a personalized roadmap complete with detailed instructions for a streamlined process. By following these tips and utilizing Cadence’s intuitive tool, executors can reduce the burden of estate settlement and ensure that their loved one’s wishes are honored.

Are you looking for a solution to the burden of estate settlement? Reach out to a Cadence representative today and discover how our Executor Assistant can provide you with peace of mind throughout executorship.